Tim Steel, who is of Ngāi Tahu descent, grew up in Pukerua Bay, where he collected beach stones from a young age. His affinity with searching out and finding special stones has always been with him. In 2013, he knew it was time to pursue a more creative way of life and attended art school which allowed him to shape and carve different materials with his hands. It wasn't long before he discovered jade and a love story was born.
He has developed his own style which is inspired by his ancestors, natural and urban aesthetics, as well as artifacts both contemporary and ancient. Through that inspiration he tries to push the conventional design boundaries of modern stone carving culture. Working out of his home studio space in Waipawa, Central Hawkes Bay, he gives thanks and pays respect to the stone and his ancestors. He describes himself as feeling grounded, knowing if it wasn't for them he wouldn't be here to have the privilege of working the stone.
The hei toki (Adze) represents courage and strength in times of adversity. It can also represent creativity, wisdom and be a symbol of authority.
In traditional Maori society the hei toki was used as a tool, it had two uses. Firstly it was carved into a chunky blade and either lashed to a wooden handle or held in the hand and was used to cut down trees and carve out waka among other things. Secondly it was carved into a finer blade and lashed to an equally ornate wooden handle. Toki Poutangata (ornate axe) were only wielded by strong chiefs in the tribe and were purely ceremonial.